Arson arrest sparks look at other fires

By Tom Joyce - [email protected]


As a Mount Airy man remains jailed under a large bond on an arson charge from an incident Friday on Springs Road, officials are examining previous fires in the area for possible links.

The blaze Friday afternoon at a home at 2038 Springs Road caused $30,000 in damage to the structure, owned by Betty Hawks Ausburne and valued on tax books at $42,450, and its contents.

Michael Chad Shaw, 44, of 113 Spring Water Trail, subsequently was arrested and charged with second-degree arson and misdemeanor larceny. The city police and fire departments responded to the fire and Shaw was implicated as a result of a probe in which the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation assisted.

The second-degree arson charge relates to no one being in the structure at the time the fire began, which Police Chief Dale Watson says was caused by “a simplistic incendiary device.” In addition to Mount Airy fire and police personnel and the SBI, other resources called for Friday included the Bannertown, Franklin and Four-Way volunteer fire departments; the Surry County EMS; and the county fire marshal.

No injuries resulted to firefighters or civilians.

Shaw was being held Monday in the Surry County Jail under a $250,000 secured bond.

Another fire had occurred on April 2 at an outbuilding at the same location, which was one of three fires that broke out during a 90-minute span within a half-mile of each other in the northern part of town. All were labeled “suspicious in nature” by authorities.

Chief Watson said Monday that Shaw has not been identified as a suspect in any of the previous incidents.

“Right now, we’re making sure to complete this investigation,” Watson said of the Friday fire, to ensure a strong case being presented at the trial stage.

“Arsons are tough to investigate.”

But the police chief said that when such an arrest is made, previous cases will be examined for similarities and possible ties to the same suspect. He added that the earlier fire at the 2038 Springs Road home is still under investigation.

Watson was unsure of any relationship between Shaw and the owner of the residence.

“He does live in that community,” he said of the suspect.

The other two fires on April 2 occurred at a home at 1717 North Main St. and another at 1920 North Main St., where a camper had erupted in flames.

Firefighters were able to extinguish all three blazes, with total property damages put at about $6,500.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.


By Tom Joyce

[email protected]

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